April 26 (Thursday)

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 Guy  Fawkes
Full Name: Guy Fawkes
Born: 1570 in York, England
Died: Jan. 31, 1606 in London, England

Guy Fawkes is one of the best known freedom fighters you’ve never heard of. Also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, he was the best-known member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The object of the plot was to blow up the palace at Westminster during the state opening of Parliament, while King James I and his chief ministers met within, in retaliation for increasing oppression of Roman Catholics in England.

Tipped off by an anonymous letter, the authorities captured Fawkes and tortured him before executing him. The failure of the Gunpowder Plot has been commemorated in England ever since. The British still celebrate November 5 as Guy Fawkes Day, featuring fireworks and masked children begging “a penny for the guy,” as effigies of Fawkes are burned.

Ironically, the demonization of Guy Fawkes backfired as he began to be perceived in a more sympathetic light. Fawkes evolved into an action hero in children’s books, and effigies of corrupt politicians, such as Margaret Thatcher, were sometimes burned in his place. In the movie V for Vendetta (2005), V fights against a fascist British state while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, helping to transform it into an international symbol of anarchism and resistance

On a humorous note, Guy Fawkes is sometimes toasted as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.”